BWV 119 Preise, Jerusalem, den Herrn

Inauguration of the New Town Council.

Poet unknown.

1. Ps. 147:12-14; 9. Martin Luther, part of verse 4 of the German Te Deum, 1529 (Wackernagel, I, #212).

30 August 1723, Leipzig.

BG 24; NBA I/32.


1. Chorus [Dictum] (S, A, T, B)

Praise, O Jerusalem, the Lord, laud, O Zion, him thy God! For he maketh fast the bars across thy doorway and blesseth all thy children therein, he bringeth peace within thy borders.

2. Recit. (T)

O happy land, O city blest,
Where e'en the Lord his hearth and fire doth keep!
Can God show greater favor
Than where he honor gives within a land a dwelling?
Can he a city give
With richer force his blessing
Than where he troth and kindness cause to meet each other,
And where, that righteousness and peace ought
To kiss, he never tireth,(1)
Untiring, never done,
That they be ever cherished, and hath his promise here fulfilled?
Therefore we must conclude: O happy land, O city blest!

3. Aria (T)

Well thee, thou linden people,(2)
Well thee, thou art well off!

    How much of God's true blessing
    And of his gracious favor,
    Which overfloweth here,
    Thou canst in thee discover.

4. Recit. (B)

Thou dost in glory stand, dear town!
Thou folk which God did choose for his inheritance!(3)
How good! How very good! Where one to heart would take it
And rightly recognize
Through whom the Lord his blessing's increase sponsored.
True!
Need there more be said?
The witness is at hand,
The heart and conscience will convince us quickly
That all the good we near us see,
First God, then wise authority
By means of prudent government inspired.
So now, beloved folk, thy steadfast thanks prepare,
Else would of all these things not e'en thy walls keep silent!(4)

5. Aria (A)

Authority is God's endowment,
Indeed, of God an image true.

    Who would its might not duly measure
    Must also be of God unmindful:
    How would else be his word fulfilled? (5)

6. Recit. (S)

Now! We acknowledge this and bring to thee,
O God on high, an off'ring of our thanks for this.
And so, whereas this very day,
The day which us the Lord hath made,(6)
You, cherished elders, partly from your toil delivered,
And partly, too,
Brought sleepless hours of worry
Which with a new election come,
Thus sighs a loyal throng with heart and tongue alike:

7. Chorus [S, A, T, B)

The Lord hath good for us achieved,
For this we're all rejoicing.

    May he our cherished elders tend
    And keep them for uncounted
    And long-enduring years on end
    Within their house of government,
    And we will gladly praise him.

8. Recit. (A)

And last!
Since thou didst, Lord, us to thy people join,
Then let from these thy faithful
Still one more humble pray'r
Before thine ears to come now.
And hear us! Oh yes, hear us!
The mouth, the heart and soul are sighing deeply.

9. Chorale (S, A, T, B)

Thy people help, Lord Jesus Christ,
And bless them, thine inheritance.
Guard and tend them at ev'ry hour
And raise them high forever more!
Amen.


1. Cf. Ps. 85:10.

2. This expression alludes to the etymology of Leipzig from the Slavic lipa `'linden tree.' This rhetorical figure (locus notationis 'play on names') on Leipzig occurs in several of Bach's cantatas. Cf. BWV 215/8a and BWV 207a/1.

3. Cf. Ps. 33:12.

4. Cf. Lk. 19:40.

5. Cf. Rom. 13:1-7. The unity of the God-given authority is emphasized in the unison Flauto [dolce] I and II.

6. Cf. Ps. 118:24.


© Copyright  Z. Philip Ambrose


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